No little dogs were hurt or killed in the making of this photos. Well…that’s not totally true, her pads were probably a little raw and she was a bit exhausted from the hike, but I promise, she’s fine now, actually rather sleepy.
This was a party for the group of us that were laid-off. Some of the people here saw their last day and some just came to buy drinks and talk…and maybe do a little singing as well.
So…some of you may be wondering, what’s up? It’s a somewhat short, but fairly intense story, it also goes better after a drink or two or forty-eight.
About 2 weeks was my last day at the company I had been at for the past 7 years. I was laid-off. Don’t feel bad, it’s a good thing. As several people have already noted to me, I had been sounding done with that place for over a year. I was. Time to move on.
The timing actually worked out fairly well. (If you haven’t started drinking here, and don’t know what I’m about to say, start drinking, it helps, trust me.) I’ve upped and moved to Vegas to live with my 4 month pregnant gal. Yep, I live in the Southwest now and have a kid on the way. Life is…interesting.
I’m still figuring out many things, like what my job is going to be as my industry is in the toliet. I don’t know a lot of things which are coming to me and my life. I do know I’m excited to for my future, far more excited than I have been in a long time. There are a lot of challenges ahead, no doubt, but I think they can all be solved, I just don’t know how yet.
As for my photography…I don’t know if I’ll be working in the photojournalism field anymore. I may be, I may not. Ultimately I want to be sure my bills are paid and my family is taken care of first. I couldn’t even take care of myself by the end of that old job. I will be taking photos, I don’t know of what, I don’t know when, I don’t know how, I just know I will. It’s my nature. I do know that by the end of my old job the images I was making weren’t the images I wanted to be making, the images that I wanted to be making were all being done on the side for me. With that in mind, I’m going to be able to keep making those images I want to make because I’ll make that happen.
So, a few photos, one of what I saw on December 27th, along with the confirmation tests.
A picture of where I live, I promise it’s in there and it’s taken from the mountain in the backyard.
And part of my new family, Esther (Erin’s mom’s dog), Motley and Stella. And the last photo is Roxy. They all like to sleep in my office while I work.
I’m a proud American. I respect and honor the veterans of this nations armed forces for all their hard work and scarfices, now having said that….
I showed up to this Veteran’s Day Ceremony at a local high school, I’m a few minutes late, nothing big though. First problem. One of the honored vets is on the floor having an obvious medical issue. He was there for a while, till the paramedics arrived. Everyone seemed pretty concerned about this, except the other vets his age, who seemed pretty unconcerned. I’m guessing they’re used to seeing a man go down and get taken out by the paramedics, at some age this just becomes normal I’m guessing.
This vet really got my respect though when he was being wheeled out and waved goodbye to the cheering crowd. That’s the way to take center stage.
I stayed, photographed the event, then realized something. The vets looked as horribly bored and uninterested in the event as the teens did. Sneaking in comments to their friends, paying no never mind to whatever it was that was happening.
Now I wonder, did the vet who got taken out by the paramedics just fake it to avoid the ceremony? If so, I bow to the maestro.
This is Jeremy Chapman, laughing yoga instructor, and head of the Chicago Laughmore Club (I think that’s the name, but as with all organizations like this, it’s a little loose and hard to get a handle on some basics.) They meet every once and a while, and laugh. No purpose, no point, except the physical, mental and emotional health benefits of laughter. Yes, I’m going to go back and just do this instead of covering hopefully in the future.
Special thanks to my cuz Jackie who spotted this one while she was visiting Chicago. I, alas, totally walked by it without even noting it. I’ve become too hardened to seeing the strange of this universe.
I’ve been debating the difference, on a philosophical level of 4 colors, white, black, chrome (oh, shiny) and clear. See, none of them are colors, in fact, most every color you think of as a color isn’t a color. Sorry, accept this, accept that your brain is making all these things up, you only see red, green and blue (RGB), as colors, you also see brightness with rods. Hope I didn’t burst your bubble, but teal, it doesn’t exist, neither does purple, orange, yellow, or any color beyond RGB.
So, if your favorite color is white, you aren’t actually choosing a favorite color as it’s an equal mix of RGB. You are being indecisive. (though further thought must be put into what a “color” is and the contrubution of rods to this whole thought and not just cones.)
Black is just a lack of light, so hence, it’s not a color, it’s actually a lack of color. You like black? You like nothing. Kind of explains some of my friends teen years actually.
Chrome, while shiny, and hence wonderful, is a reflection, it shows you nothing except what’s reflecting off of it. That’s actually where this all starts, The Bean (or Cloud Gate). It’s impossible to take a photo of the Bean, all you can do is take a photo of the reflection which infers the existence of the Bean, but the Bean itself does not absorb and re-emit light, it just directly reflects light. When you look at the Bean you are not seeing the Bean, you never see the Bean, you are seeing the reflections the Bean creates. (I kind of wonder if the reflection an object makes is enough to prove the existence of an object, I think so, but…)
Clear, clear is the most honest of these four “colors”. It doesn’t pretend to be a color like white or black, or a color in a Crayon box like chrome. It acknowledges it’s lack of color and embraces it.
You got some free time an upcoming weekend, this weekend, some weekend nearby? Good, I knew you did. Go see some theater. And if you ask me what you should see, and you’re still reading so I’ll assume you are asking, there are two productions I would see currently, and I will see both of them.
In this case, go see the Strange Tree Group‘s current production, “The Mysterious Elephant, And the Terrible Tragedy of the Unlikely Addington Twins* (*Who Kill Him).”
It’s getting good reviews, it’s a fun show, a fun night, and more importantly, I like it. (FYI – I have good taste in theater, maybe not clothes, nope, not clothes, but definitely in theater.) Should you want a “professional” review, go here (I’m still cooler though). And if you doubt that it is worth it, realize I give them my time, happily, to photograph their shows to encourage their work. It’s time well spent. I think they’re worth watching.
This quote is from the coordinator of an event I’m trying to cover this weekend. He is giving me advice on how to successfully cover the event and do so in a way respectful to those participating.
“wear few if any clothes (seriously)”
Now…I don’t know what to say here. Someday I’m going to have seen it all, done it all. Being asked to strip for work, that’s a new one for me. And not all that nice to those around me (time to take on those body image issues). Do what you got to do I guess.
Anyone know where to get some Marvin the Martian boxer briefs in Chicago? And a fedora? Seriously.
So, as I’ve already established, Monday was just incredible, on so many levels. Well, not to rub it in, but this was Sunday.
Sunday started at the loving time of 5:30am, for leaving the house at least. I spent from about 6am till 10am covering Bike the Drive, the annual closing of Lake Shore Drive so that bicyclists can takeover and enjoy it. It was harder to photograph than I expected, but I got a couple of okay images out of it. Suffice it to say, it got covered.
Later in the day was urban golf, through Cudgel. Basically the idea behind urban golf is you get a golf club, a tennis ball, a series of alleys, dress like a 70s golf rock-star hero, and drink your way through the course. It’s a good time, it’s utterly, and totally ridiculous, hence good time. So I got to spend a few hours hanging out with some awesome people, who were fabulously dressed (“I want to look very meticulously terrible.”)
I also decided, that besides wanting to cover this again in the future, when I do so, I’m playing next time. It’s not so rushed that I can’t, and hell, my journalism has to get more gonzo. (If you don’t know what Gonzo-journalism is, first and foremost I hope you aren’t a journalist, if you are a journalist and don’t know that term I’m kicking your ass. The wikipedia entry is pretty good. I tend towards being a bit more factually accurate, but the whole getting into the middle of events thing I’m all into. While I may be an observer of life more than a participator, I’m at least going to observe from pointblank range. I believe that I can only truly portray a situation if I feel a situation which means being absorbed by the situation which done by being totally and wholly in a situation. Got it?) I need to be more gonzo. I’m doing better, but I must get more involved, almost every image I’m happy-ish with comes from a situation I’m totally absorbed by and in.
Live and learn.
(and the dork in the yellow, is the reporter I was working with. For a reporter (which sets the bar pretty low) he’s pretty good all around.)
I was having a fine discussion this weekend with a Tribune shooter about shooting for yourself. Sometimes, sometimes, you need to create a joke just for yourself, even if it’s a wee bit misleading. This will never see publication…probably.
The attached imagery was inspired by a night at a Blackhawks game with Zeepdoggie and The Gringo, during which we hung out with Billy “Kick em’ in the Neck” and his brother Dave, who I hit in the nuts with a folding chair.
When I sum it up in a sentence…it sounds worse than it actually was.
The problem with modernity, is that everyone is so safety conscious. I used to be able to walk down the streets of town, and find someone, at least one someone, some times a few, who would be willing to engage in a perfectly fun and friendly axe fight.
Not anymore. No one axe fights. It’s too dangerous.
Okay, that’s maybe unfair, but I just had to laugh when I saw how this image came out. He was actually a nice guy from what little I communicated with him. And just to add to the humor, this was shot in a tannery, so that’s big raw piece of leather he’s working with.
I would love to provide a full context for this photo, but I feel that the need to protect the people involved is more important, and there is no way I would type such a story onto the internet. (you know it’s good when I won’t discuss it.)
The vague story is that the woman was a judge for the Chiditarod, an urban Iditarod/shopping cart race/bar crawl. She was willing to let this gentleman, who wanted to win, leave early if he bribed this judge with what she wanted. What she wanted was not to be repeated in writing. Suffice it to say, it’s one of those moments in life where a man must decide between what he wants, wants so bad he can taste it, and what is right. It’s watching the moral soul of a man crack.
I love those moments in life.
If you want to know more, you have to ask me in person. It’s a great story, everyone laughs, everyone loves the story, and that makes it even more disturbing.
My current long-term project may be very serious in nature, and have very serious moments, more serious than I like to think about, it has it’s levity as well. It was Valentine’s Day, I had two beautiful women telling me that I have to wear this and that accessory. Who am I to deny two beautiful, wonderful, joyous women? Not to mention, all the ladies at facility I was at, and there were many, were flirting with me all day long. (I did dress like this all day, and I did fight them, a little, about putting it on in the first place, but their beauty over-powered me.)
I’m going to start with some tangents then get to the point, as much as I ever have one, a few paragraphs on. The imagery is from polar bearing, the Chinese New Year’s Parade, a Snow Skate event (think SSX Tricky, and the only story assigned by the office, for you PJs), Information Superhighway’s performance, and The Afterlife’s performance. All the photos are from Friday night through Sunday night, and if still got leftovers for future posts. Ha!
There is just way too much to talk about from the past few days. Busy, busy beyond all recognition. Last night I got to turn the TV on for the evening news, tonight I watched my taped episode of Coupling (btw-I started watching this program a few months back, and it just kicks ass. Hilarious. Plus that whacky British humor kick. It’s on PBS.) That hour of TV has been all my free time for the last 5 days, and I hope it never ends.
It’s been nothing but edit, shoot, drive and talk about imagery with amazing photogs. Life is nothing short of grand. (I should note here, that I feel a little bad saying that as numerous of my friends have had really bad things happen to them this last week. And while I may be having a great week, that they are all in my thoughts and heart. If any of you need a hand, and I’ve said this to many of you already, let me know, I’m here and it would be my honor to make your life a little better.) Thursday a friend went out of her way to set-up some free tickets to a show for me. Totally unasked for, so kind, and wow, talk about setting a great tone for the weekend.
Friday after hanging with some friends, and running into a cool new friend totally at random, I got to see my favorite singer, the incredible Leslie Beukelman. (And if you’re cool, and I know you are, you want to see Leslie perform with my favorite tap dancers, Chicago Tap Theatre, in what will surely be an awesome performance, Mixology. Buy tickets now, it sells out, every show last year. Guys, you will impress your gals, with your class and taste, trust me.)
Saturday I got go Polar Bearing (I will go into depth on this in a bit, it’s the zen of it all.) And that night hang with some of Chicago’s, and the country’s premiere photographers. (Don’t believe me? Go here. Some of the presenters, showing the best in unused political photography coming out of the primaries. It makes me sad for newspapers that this doesn’t get used, but I’m not surprised either.)
Sunday was the Chinese New Year’s Parade, which was just all kinds of cold. Sunday night (Fri and Sun were both at Silvie’s strangely enough and Sat was at a house two blocks away, weird) I got to see one of my favorite theater groups turn band, The Afterlife. Whacky fun. I like theater people, I tend to get them, usually because they’re insane, so we have something in common. Plus I got to finally meet a friend (this whole Facebook/MySpace/Blog (FMB) world is weird. People I’ve never met know me, and I know them. Well at least this weekend I got to meet both of my FMB friends who I had never actually met.) who I’ve been having some pretty kickass conversations with.
Damn, I mean, damn, can life be better? Oh yeah, to top it off, I was on fire. I was like a drunken teenager in a car on a Saturday night in nowhere Texas with a baseball bat and nothing but mailboxes in front of him. Just hitting everything, everywhere. Not perfect, but solid hits all around.
My mid-day Saturday shoot, or one of them was the Lakeview Polar Bear Club’s 7th Annual Celebration of Shrinkage. For those who don’t know, Polar Bearing is basically jumping in a cold, or in this case, literally freezing, lake, for…fun? I’ve wanted to do this for years and because of recent acquasitions by our company, was able to self-assign it for work. All the time I had for prep work basically consisted of calling Brian and getting some tips; sandals so submerged ice cuts your feet less often, a nice robe so you can quickly disrobe and re-robe, things like that.
I knew there were going to be a multitude of technical issues going in. Not that cameras don’t like either the cold or water. Who would’ve thunk it? Plus an event I have a minimal understanding of and have to cover with a minimum of equipment, again, due to the whole “water problem”. I made sure my camera was set-up before hand to be as quick and responsive as possible, basically, all manual. As old Leica ads used to say, “A camera that doesn’t get in the way of taking the picture.” Plus it was going to be quick, maybe a minute, maybe less I had been warned and the people I really wanted, the newbies screaming, probably meant a 15 second window for what I needed. This was going to come down to one, maybe two chances and that was it. Plus there were going to be a host of safety issues, as I would be in literally freezing water. Dead photographers don’t make good photos, basic rule. Basically I knew it would be great. I love intensity. It’s passionate. Yeah, baby.
So I get changed, btw-you know you’re in trouble when you are taking your clothes off on a beach, in the snow, and when you pull your long underwear off, and you have swim trunks underneath, so I get changed, get some “before” shots. Whatever. I end up standing around for a few minutes in my hat, sandals and swim trunks. You’d think this would be really damn cold, it was in the mid-20s after all, but I really wasn’t. This was kind of the theme for the day.
I set-up to be able to enter the water about 5 seconds ahead of the pack. I wanted to be able to get people if it was shocking right as they entered the water, and as I wasn’t wearing a wet suit, it needed to be as little lead time as I could get away with. Safety was a constant in this plan. I entered the water well everyone else was still about 30 feet away, so the first few seconds I got to be in the water without having to, being able to focus on shooting. This is, actually, a bad thing. See I got to feel my feet lose feeling, in what I would estimate to have been 1 to 2 seconds. But once everyone else started hitting the water, it was totally different.
When I shoot, not always, but when I’m there, when I’m in the zone, I’m there, totally in the moment, totally aware of my surrondings, totally aware of what is occurring and totally focused on what I’m doing, on the image I’m making. I think, but more than that, I react, I follow instinct and training, years of training. It’s a hard to describe combination of being in the scene, feeling the scene and floating above it all. I believe as a journalist I have to report what is there, but to capture the emotion, I have to be open to the emotion, and sometimes, feeling the emotion. I have to let that feeling, in this case, damn cold, into me, but flow through me. It has to flow through because well I need to feel it to use it to guide my imagery, my creation process, I can’t get overwhelmed by it. Sometimes I do get overwhelmed by it, and that’s hard on many levels for me, but as much as possible I need to not let it stop me from doing what I need to do.
So once all the participants got in the water it was all shooting. Turn here, look for this shot, turn there, try to get that shot. I don’t remember my legs being cold, but they could’ve just been numb at that point. And while I remember my feet being cold initially, there is something shocking I don’t remember. I didn’t go that far out, that deep, but I got above my waist in the water, I know this because my trunks were soaked when I got out of the water. Not to be blunt, and while the ladies will understand this, the men will truly get this, I don’t remember the boys hitting the water. Maybe they went numb to quick, whatever, but this is one of those moments you expect to hit you, like that drunk teenager earlier, except this time I’d be, or my boys more accurately, would be the mailbox. As a guy, any water below a nice warm bath tub, or a jacuzzi, ahhh jacuzzi, is a memorable experience and not in a good way typically. This one, which may have been the worst ever for me, I didn’t even notice. I was too focused on getting my shots, on what was around me.
It just amazes me how focused the mind can be, how it can allow all the necessary information in and discard everything else, regardless of how…profound, it may be. I ended up being in the water for about a minute and seven seconds (I’m taking that time from the time stamps on the images.) I left, I think I left, when I felt that I was starting to enter a time frame where safety issues might start to appear. Plus most everyone had come in and gotten out, so my shots had moved to people getting dressed and such and were no longer in the water. I didn’t think about it much, I just knew that’s where I needed to be, and moved to be there.
I spent the next 30 minutes, maybe more, in my wet trunks, my sandals, with wool socks on now to keep my feet warm (if my feet are warm, I’m warm), my winter hat, and my awesome royal blue heavy cotton robe. I wasn’t cold at all. I shot people getting warm, drinking hot chocolate, doing all the “after” things you would expect. Plus I ran into one our freelance photographers and we chatted for about 10, 15 minutes. The photo community is small, it’s always good to get to know people, and help them when you can, because someday, you’ll probably need it in return.
But my favorite point in shooting, the experience I live most for, is not when I see that final image. It’s for the moment shutter is open, it’s when everything is around me, I know what’s happening on all sides, and the shutter is open, making that image. For that split second an exposure is being made. That is my moment in life. That is the moment I live for. Not all photography is like that, a village council meeting? Who cares, it’s got to be done, but I’m not into it. Those intense, beautiful instants, when it’s all about feeling, instinct, passion, and the moment, that beautiful moment, is like nothing else. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to that Zen mediation feeling of being totally empty, without thought. Luckily for me, I get it regularly, or fairly regularly, and nothing can replace it.
Can life get better? And if so, can my heart handle it?
So I got my hair done again by Lexi, The Great and Everlasting Goddess of Hair. I now have a dark red streak. It’s a bit…strange, but I think I’m going to have fun with it. So far reviews have gone reasonably well (also known as, several women and gay men have said good things about my hair.)
Lexi recommended I head straight out to the bar after getting my hair done, to go pick-up ladies. Alas, meeting people in bars is just about my definition of Hell on Earth, right next to parties where I know at best a few people. I’d rather be shot, and I’m not sure if that’s hyperbole or not either.
It’s funny, about a year back I had been considering doing a fairly large self-portrait project. It was going to be my break-up project. All my major break-ups have a project, and they tend to be some of my best projects. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it is. It was going to involve each image having a large number of images combined to make one image of my face. Each of the smaller pieces of the larger was going to be slightly different and help create a somewhat torn and fractured portrait. It’s an idea that had some legs to it, I still think it does. It never happened. I found, or more accurately it found me, another project, a project that was so much better and expressed my break-up in a way I never anticipated, and helped me see it more clearly, see me more clearly, and helped me grow. The new project was about excitement, joy and freedom and the self-portrait project was about pain. The joyous project won. Great.
But I’m still me, and sometimes, as with all visual artists, I think, I like to do self-portraits. What’s interesting is what the self-portrait reveals. I spend a lot of time analyzing myself, and the world in general (read, sitting in traffic). What I find in the self-portrait tells me some great things about myself that I don’t find by just thinking.
When I do these I set-up the camera and the lights, do some testing and go. And when I say “Go” I mean “Go”. Have the camera take a new photo every two seconds for 50 continuous frames, maybe more. It’s not enough time to think, just act, just release. And that’s the key, sometimes items must be thought out, thought through, but sometimes, just letting go, and flying, feeling, says everything that needs to be said. Thought gets in the way of feeling some days.
So apparently, I’m not in all that serious of place, though part of me wonders if I’m also partially in a place where I can’t face myself. Only time will tell which of those is true, but currently I prefer the not being in a serious place theory. It feels…good.
This kind of self-examination is also why I love (and for other reasons loathe) the growth of the cell-phone camera. Sure I may do self-portraits, and I may set-up a bunch of stuff to do it, hell, I can, so why not? But people everywhere are taking self-portraits all the time now, so much more than at probably any point in history. And well I may use them partially to self-analyze because I’ve been taught to, I’m hoping others use them to do the same, even if not so pointedly or seriously as I do.
Nothing wrong with a little more self-reflection in this world. And for me, I’ll just enjoy being ridiculous human being.